“Mom, remind me why you have this.”
I held up a six inch centerpiece. It was a plastic, old fashioned milk can the color of dijon mustard with plastic daisies the size of dimes glued into it. The arrangement conflicted with the signed paintings decorating the walls.
“Do you remember that year I taught sixth grade?” She asked.
“I know you reverted back to fourth grade after that,” I answered.
“Those sixth graders fought constantly. They wore me out.” She sighed. “Poor dears, their stomachs growled. They had bigger things to worry about than school, and I didn’t think they learned anything,” She explained.
“I vaguely remember now,” I said, also having been a sixth grader in a different school those many years before.
“Well, on the last day of school, they presented me with a present wrapped in newspaper.” Mom said. “They were so excited and proud.”
“And that present was this centerpiece?” I asked.
“The whole class saved their pennies to buy it for me. It means more to me than any crystal vase,” she mused.
I understood why she kept that knickknack on the table. The object reminded Mom of a stressful time when she didn’t think she made a difference in the lives of her students. This object was tangible proof that she did.
I also keep objects to remind me that God uses me to touch lives. I need these reminders when I feel hopeless about my vocational work. Occasionally, I rediscover cards crammed in my desk cubby, or like this morning, I read comments left on my blog by readers, like you. My weakness hungers for these “attaboys,” but that’s okay. God knows we need reminders that He uses us and that He is at work in our lives.
I’ve also kept a heart-shaped box my son cleverly made out of cardstock. This box holds strips of folded paper with impossible prayer requests scrawled on them followed by dated answers God provided. My journals hold accounts of lamentations and God’s signs, particular-to-me signs, that He hears and sees me.
In the Old Testament, people built small cairns as reminders of God’s presence and encouragement. They called these stones, Ebenezers. A hymn speaks of them.
Here is the second verse of that famous hymn, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”
Here I raise my Ebenezer; hither by they help I’m come;
And I hope, by they good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger, wandering from the fold of God:
He, to rescue me from danger, interposed His precious blood.
This verse reminds us that our hope lodges in Christ. His interventions deliver us, not our straightening ourselves up. In case we need the reminder that God is the author and perfecter of our faith, the third verse gives it to us.
O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be;
Let that grace now, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander—Lord, I feel it—prone to leave the God I love:
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for they courts above.
Think of the ebenezers God has presented to you. Recall them or go dig them up. Let the reminders of His love, despite what you may feel, assure you of His hope and His pleasure in you. The reminders don’t have to be lovely for their meanings to be beautiful.
PS. JUST THIS MOMENT I RECEIVED an Ebenezer. My phone beeped with a message from a language app which rewards users with hearts to spend, “Your hearts are full again! You’re ready for new lessons.” 🙂
Remember His marvelous works which He has done, His wonders, and the judgments of His mouth.
1 Chronicles 16:12